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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Don Mather, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Robert Gibson, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby

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Verve 0602517621350




1. Hobo Flats
2. Post No Bills
3. A Bientot
4. Three Plus One
5. Take Me With You
6. Daylie's Double
7. Teenie's Blues
8. Laz-ie Kate

Oliver Nelson - Tenor sax
Jerome Richardson - Baritone sax, flute, alto flute
Phil Woods - Alto sax, clarinet
Robert Ashton - Tenor sax, clarinet
Kenny Soderblom - Alto sax, flute
Roy Wiegano - Trombone
Tony Studd - Bass trombone
Art Hoyle, Eugene (Snooky) Young - Trumpets
Patti Bown - Piano
Ben Tucker - Bass
Grady Tate - Drums

Oliver Nelson established himself as an important composer and arranger with his 1961 album, Blues and the Abstract Truth. Consisting entirely of blues compositions, it showed Oliver's ingenuity in arranging as well as playing the tenor-sax. Fantabulous was originally released on the Argo label three years later and again displays Nelson's multiple talents.

Oliver Nelson had a particular gift for writing simple but effective tunes that made ideal material for improvising. He also arranged them in such a way as to keep things varied as well as swinging. Note from the personnel that this is not actually a "big band" in the usually accepted sense (15 to 20 players), because it only contains a dozen musicians. Yet Nelson manages to create the feeling of a big band without falling into most of the traps that beset big-band writing. And who could go wrong with Grady Tate's dynamic drums driving things along?

Part of Nelson's success lies in his leaving plenty of space for the soloists, so that individual voices like Phil Woods get plenty of room to solo at length. Woods is heard soloing gloriously on Post No Bills, which also features Jerome Richardson's growling flute. Patti Bown gets plenty of solo exposure, although her piano on Hobo Flats sounds rather like a tinny children's toy. Oliver Nelson features his own tenor sax on several tracks, notably Take Me With You, where he states the theme and then solos with eloquence.

This album has been overshadowed by the success of Blues and the Abstract Truth but it is well worth hearing - and buying. In fact, like its more famous predecessor, this album is vitalised by the bluesy quality in the music. The short playing-time (under 35 minutes) may be a deterrent but it is offset by the budget price and, in any case, every one of those minutes contains music of interest and imagination.

Tony Augarde






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